Lily Iona MacKenzie's Blog for Writers & Readers


Welcome to fellow Canadian and guest author Carolyn Clarke who finds chocolate an intrinsic aid to writing!

Carolyn Clarke is the founder and curator of HenLit Central, a blog focused on ‘life and lit’ for women over 40. And Then There’s Margaret is her first novel. She has been an ESL teacher for over sixteen years and has co-authored several articles and resources with Cambridge University Press, MacMillan Education and her award-winning blog ESL Made Easy. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her partner, Tony, her two daughters and of course her bulldog, Sophie.

  1. Do you see chocolate as an intrinsic aid to writing?

As soon as I saw this question on your list of questions, I just had to answer — in capital letters, YES! It tastes good. It feels good. It smells good. And all those good feelings help with a positive writing experience and process. I have a basket full of Lindt Lindors on my desk for treats and those writing rewards.

  1. Who has supported you along the way?

Some of my family, friends, and colleagues. They’ve been a part of my getting there, encouraging me to write this book and cheering me on to finish it. I also owe an enormous debt of gratitude to those who gave me constructive comments and suggestions on a chapter or two. And you know who you are!

  1. What questions would you like me to ask other authors?

Any questions that solicit answers I could learn or get inspiration from such as…

When life gets in the way, how do you manage to write?

What advice would you give to debut authors when it comes to marketing and promotion?

Do you plot your stories in detail or do you “write” by the seat of your pants? And why?

What was ‘your journey to publication’ like as a debut author?

  1. How long did it take you to write your book?

It’s been nearly six years now since I began crafting out this novel. The writing was the easy part. Editing to perfect the book a thousand times over and getting published wasn’t. And now, even more challenging is working alongside the publisher in the marketing and promotion stages until the release date on July 21, 2022. It’s been a long and challenging journey, but sure worth it!

  1. Have you published anything before? If so, what and where?

Yes, I’ve previously written and published ESL resources for teachers and students on my ESL MADE EASY blog and with Cambridge University Press. After years of teaching ESL and writing in this field, I wanted to switch from writing non-fiction material to writing creative and lively stories.

  1. How much to you is writing a solitary activity and how much a communal one?

For me, writing is a solitude activity — like a form of meditation. Although I love sharing ideas, socializing, and learning from other writers, I prefer the “quiet” and alone time. I have to have “Zen” music playing in the background and zero distractions from my family, unless of course it’s chocolate, any form of chocolate, being delivered to the office door – see question #1 😊

  1. Sales numbers, if they do not achieve bestseller status, can be tough on our self-esteem. Do you have a favorite remedy for when you feel afflicted by this kind of number-funk? What keeps you centered and focused on the writing craft?

While my book hasn’t yet ‘officially’ hit the market, I am preparing myself for this possible and dreaded number-funk. In the pre-sale stage (which I have no idea of numbers yet), authors have to be focused on getting reviews. Reviews. Reviews. Reviews. Reviews, I’ve learned, are the most important thing you can have to build “buzz” in this highly competitive and saturated book market. Good and bad reviews can be the life and death of a new author. Luckily, And Then There’s Margaret has been getting some great exposure and positive feedback, but I’ve had the not so nice review, or two, too and that stung – low self-esteem and self doubt mixed in there too. But knowing that this is part of the process of becoming a successful author has helped keep me focused and centred on the reasons why I started this journey in the first place.

  1. What’s next for you?

I’ll see how my book does in the market – there’s usually an eight-month window for any book to stand out, so my hope is that it will. Well, enough to keep me motivated and encouraged to continue with the next project – another standalone light-hearted and relatable book with a not so young protagonist. And like many dreamers out there, I would love to be able to write full time one day with a view of the beach (or on it) and with a cocktail in hand before sunset.



Marriage and midlife can be difficult. And when you add a controlling, manipulative, and self-absorbed mother-in-law into the mix, things can get worse—much worse. Toxic even.

Feeling annoyed, trapped and even a little childish, Allie struggles to avoid a complete meltdown with help from her fearless and audacious best friend, a plan for reinventing herself and, yes, a few glasses of Chardonnay. Can Allie survive her mother-in-law, all while navigating through the trials and tribulations of midlife, the anxieties of parenting adult children, and a twenty-two-year-old marriage? Maybe…

You can love your mother-in-law, doesn’t mean you have to like her…

Release Date: July 21, 2022

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